No means no: SMU study shows that teen girls report less sexual victimization after virtual-reality assertiveness training

faculty research

No means no: SMU study shows that teen girls report less sexual victimization after virtual-reality assertiveness training

Stock photo of two people holding handsTeen girls were less likely to report being sexually victimized after learning to assertively resist unwanted sexual overtures and practicing resistance in a realistic virtual environment, according to a new SMU-led study.

The effects persisted over a three-month period following the training, says clinical psychologist Lorelei Simpson Rowe, lead author on the pilot study and an associate professor of psychology in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

The research also found that those girls who had previously experienced dating violence reported lower levels of psychological aggression and psychological distress after completing the program, relative to girls in a comparison group.

“The virtual simulations allowed girls to practice being assertive in a realistic environment. The intent of the program is for the learning opportunity to increase the likelihood that they will use the skills in real life,” said Simpson Rowe, who also serves as graduate program co-director in the Department of Psychology. “Research has shown that skills are more likely to generalize if they are practiced in a realistic environment, so we used virtual reality to increase the realism.”

The training program, called “My Voice, My Choice,” emphasizes that victims do not invite sexual violence and that they have the right to stand up for themselves because violent or coercive behavior is never OK.

“It is very promising that learning resistance skills and practicing them in virtual simulations of coercive interactions could reduce the risk for later sexual victimization,” said Simpson Rowe.

She cautioned, however, that the research is preliminary and based on a small sample: 42 in the “My Voice, My Choice” condition and 36 in a control condition. Future research is needed to establish the benefits of the program across different age groups and populations, for example, college versus high school students.

The study’s strengths included its randomized controlled design and a high participant retention rate among the 78 teen girls in the study.

The virtual-reality simulation component of “My Voice, My Choice” utilizes a software program developed by study co-authors Ernest N. Jouriles and Renee McDonald in conjunction with the game design program in The Guildhall at SMU. Jouriles and McDonald are clinical psychologists in the SMU Psychology Department. Jouriles is professor and chair. McDonald is a professor and associate dean of research and academic affairs in Dedman College.

“One advantage the virtual simulations offer is the ability to actually observe whether, and how, the girls are using the skills in coercive situations that feel very real,” McDonald said. “This provides girls with opportunities for immediate feedback and accelerated learning, and for facilitators to easily spot areas in need of further strengthening. The value of this advantage can’t be overstated.”

One question that remains for future research is whether the practice in virtual simulations was the operative factor that reduced sexual victimization, Simpson Rowe said.

“We need to determine if practice in a virtual setting is the key factor in making the intervention effective, or if other factors, such as being encouraged to stand up for themselves, led to the outcomes,” she said.

The researchers reported their findings, “Reducing Sexual Victimization among Adolescent Girls: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of My Voice, My Choice,” in the journal Behavior Therapy. The article has been published online in advance of print.

Written by Margaret Allen

> Read the full story from the SMU Research blog

February 12, 2015|Faculty in the News, For the Record, News, Research|

Calendar Highlights, Feb. 4, 2015

Photograph taken at SMU Meadows Susannah recital

Photograph taken at SMU Meadows Opera Theatre rehearsal for upcoming production Susannah.

Meadows Opera Theatre: The award-winning Meadows Opera Theatre, directed by Hank Hammett, presents the two-act opera SusannahTickets are $7 for students, faculty and staff and are available for purchase online. The production will run from Thursday, Feb. 5 through Sunday, Feb. 8, in the Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center. For more information, call 214-768-2787.

Clements Center Senior Fellow Lecture: Lead by Clements Center Research Senior Fellow Rachel St. John, the Annual Clements Center Senior Fellow Lecture will explore “Unmanifest America: The Unstable Borders of 19th-Century North America & the Strange Career of William Gwin.St. John will present her research on William Gwin, the once prominent speculator and politician who attempted to expand the boundaries of the Untied States during the 19th century. The lecture will begin at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 5, in McCord Auditorium. Although this event is free and open to the public, seating is limited and guests are encouraged to register online. For more information, call 214-768-3684.

Faith Colloquium: The Bolin Family 2015 Public Life|Personal Faith Colloquium presents former While House Chief of Staff Andrew and his wife, the Rev. Kathleen Card. Sponsored by the SMU Perkins School of Theoogy, the event will take place on Friday, Feb. 6. The informal Q&A-style Colloquium, free and open to the public, will be from 10-11 a.m. in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall, 5901 Bishop Boulevard. For more information, visit Perkin’s Public Life|Personal Faith webpage. 

Meadows Museum Symposium: Co-organized by the Meadows Museum and Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, the Meadows Museum Symposium presents “Curating Goya,” Saturday, Feb. 7, 10 a.m., in the Bob Smith Auditorium, Meadows Museum.  Curators of recent and upcoming shows on Francisco Goya will discuss how different approaches to exhibiting Goya’s work invite new paths for understanding his art. While this is a free event with no registration required, seating will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, call 214-768-4677.

Marine

“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band Brass Quintet.

U.S. Marine Band Brass Quintet: Presented by the Meadows School of the Arts“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band Brass Quintet from Washington D.C., will give a free concert at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 10 in Caruth Auditorium. As America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization, the quintet’s mission is to perform for the president of the United States and the commandant of the Marine Corps. For more information, call the Meadows School Division of Music at 214-768-1951.

February 4, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|

Faculty in the News: January 2015

Ben Voth

Ben Both, Director of Debate & Associate Professor of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs

Andrea Meltzer, Psychology, Dedman School of Humanities and Sciences, was featured on the Science Codex for her self-image research. Meltzer conducted three independent studies, resulting in the conclusion that woman’s body image is strongly linked to their perception of what they believe men prefer. The Science Codex article appeared on Jan. 13, 2015.

Ben Voth, director of debate and associate professor, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Meadows School of the Arts, published a KERA article entitled “What ‘The Great Debater’ James Farmer Can Teach Us Today,” in which he explored the role of Texas native James Farmer Jr. and his contribution to the American civil rights movement. The article was published on Jan. 12, 2015.

Jonathan Norton, Pony Express(ions) Stay Play Editor, Meadows School of the Arts, was listed as No. 20 in a recent Dallas Observer article exploring “100 Dallas Creatives.” The article appeared on Jan. 9, 2015.

Heather DeShon, Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, was featured in a NBC National News video exploring if earthquakes are becoming a new trend in Texas. The video aired on Jan. 8, 2015.

Heather DeShon

Heather DeShon, Geophysics Associate Professor, Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences

Brian Stump, Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, was featured in a National Geographic article examining the causes of the recent North Texas earthquakes. The article was published on Jan. 7, 2015.

Bernard Weinstein, Maguire Energy Institute, Cox School of Business, provided commentary on a National Journal article discussing low gas prices and a possible federal gas tax hike. The article was published on Jan. 5, 2015.

Chuck Dannis, Real Estate, Risk Management and Business Law, Cox School of Business, was published in D Magazine‘s article “Disrupting Estate Coverage in Dallas” in an exclusive section entitled “The Future of Real Estate (the Good  and the Bad).”

 

SMU-record 14 professors receive 2014-15 Sam Taylor Fellowships

UMC General Board of Higher Education and Ministry logoFourteen SMU faculty members – a University-record number – have received 2014-15 Sam Taylor Fellowships from the Sam Taylor Fellowship Fund of the Division of Higher Education, United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

The Fellowships, funded by income from a portion of Taylor’s estate, award up to $2,000 for full-time faculty members at United Methodist-related colleges and universities in Texas. Any full-time faculty member is eligible to apply for the Fellowships, which support research “advancing the intellectual, social or religious life of Texas and the nation.”

Applications are evaluated on the significance of the project, clarity of the proposal, professional development of the applicant, value of the project to the community or nation, and the project’s sensitivity to value questions confronting higher education and society.

The winning professors for this academic year, and their projects:

Edward Countryman, History, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, for research at the Canadian National Archives for his book on Joseph Brant and colonial America.

Johan Elverskog, Religious Studies, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, to work in the Getty Museum’s archives for his book on the history of Buddhist influence in art.

Kathleen Gallagher, Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship, Meadows School of the Arts, to conduct interviews in Puerto Rico regarding non-profit organization life cycles.

Adam Herring, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts, to include color plates in his monograph on Inca artworks.

Peter Kupfer, Music History, Meadows School of the Arts, to survey how viewers understand cultural meanings of classical music used in advertising.

Rita Linjuan Men, Communication Studies, Meadows School of the Arts, to collect survey data for analysis of transparency in organizations’ social media communications.

Rebekah Miles, Perkins School of Theology, for archival research and interviews regarding Ursula Niebuhr’s works.

Brian Molanphy, Art, Meadows School of the Arts, to support his Spring 2015 artist residency at l’Ecole de céramique de Provence in France.

Lisa Pon, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts, for inclusion of illustrations in her forthcoming book.

Christopher Roos, Anthropology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, to support collaborative research in Tasmania.

Brett Story, Environmental and Civil Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering, for load-testing materials to study collapse resistance in buildings.

Peng Tao, Chemistry, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, for software to study protein-folding and unfolded protein response.

Jenia Turner, Dedman School of Law, to survey prosecutors and defense attorneys nationally regarding the U.S. criminal justice system.

Hye Jin Yoon, Temerlin Advertising Institute, Meadows School of the Arts, for a survey regarding efficacy of advertising appeals to individualism versus collectivism.

December 12, 2014|For the Record, News, Research, Year of the Faculty|

SMU seismologist Brian Stump named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Brian W. Stump, Albritton Professor of Geological Sciences and AAAS Fellow, SMUSMU seismologist Brian Stump has been named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow for distinguished contributions to his field, particularly in the area of seismic monitoring in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. Stump, Albritton Chair of Geological Sciences in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences of SMU’s Dedman College, is the fifth SMU professor to be recognized as an AAAS Fellow.

> Learn about Dr. Stump’s work at the SMU Research blog

“Dr. Stump is a scientist of the first rank and brings the results of his outstanding research into the classroom, where his students benefit from his example and insights as a scholar,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He richly deserves the AAAS recognition by his peers and we are proud that he calls SMU home.”

“Brian’s work has been seminal in scientists’ ability to rapidly and accurately discern the difference between an earthquake, a conventional explosion (such as might occur in a mining accident) and a nuclear test,” said James Quick, SMU vice president for research and dean of graduate studies. “His research is tremendously important to all of us, and yet he is equally committed to teaching and serving as a mentor to young faculty.”

> SMU News: SMU-UT study shows “plausible” connection between DFW quakes and saltwater injection well

Stump is well known regionally for his continued work researching the increase of small earthquakes that have been occurring in North Texas since 2008. But his work in detecting ground motion from explosions has for more than 20 years proved invaluable to the United States government in ensuring that the world’s nuclear powers abide by their agreements related to underground nuclear testing. He served as scientific adviser to the U.S. delegation to the Conference on Disarmament from 1994 through 1996 and continues to be called upon frequently to assist the U.S. government in the interpretation of seismic and acoustic data.

“I’m humbled by the recognition by the AAAS that science impacts the society in which we live,” Stump said. “I really believe that. And the work we’ve done at SMU on inducted seismicity in North Texas has that same blend of real science and societal impact.”

> Brian Stump on CBS-11 News: Report looks at drilling wastewater and North Texas earthquakes

For the last five years Stump has chaired the Air Force Technical Applications Center Seismic Review Panel, which provides a review of federally funded efforts in nuclear monitoring. He served as a committee member on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Seismology and Continental Dynamics from 2007 through 2012, and recently completed a term as board chair for Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), a consortium of more than 100 universities funded by the National Science Foundation.

Stump joined SMU in 1983 from the Seismology Section of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. He graduated summa cum laude from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon with a bachelor of arts in physics in 1974, received a master of arts from the University of California-Berkeley in 1975 and received his Ph.D. in geophysics from UC-Berkeley in 1979 after completing a thesis titled Investigation of Seismic Sources by the Linear Inversion of Seismograms.

SMU faculty previously named as AAAS Fellows:

  • Volcanologist and research dean James Quick, who was named a Fellow in 2013
  • Environmental biochemistry scholar Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs and a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 2003
  • Anthropologist David Meltzer, Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in the Department of Anthropology who was named a Fellow in 1998
  • James E. Brooks, provost emeritus and professor emeritus in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 1966.

The AAAS Fellows program began in 1874. AAAS members may be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering group of their respective sections, by three Fellows, or by the association’s chief executive officer. Each steering group then reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and forwards a final list to the AAAS Council, which votes on the final list of Fellows.

> Read more from SMU News

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